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Small Business Development Center helps grow Roswell

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Many people have no idea how to start or grow a business, according to Scott Bucher, director of the Small Business Development Center at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell.

They have expertise and an idea, but often they lack the knowledge, planning, strategy and skills to switch from “building a job” to creating a viable business.

“A lot of our clients are struggling with the moving targets that the market is providing them with,” said Bucher, a former consulting business owner who has been with the Roswell SBDC for two years. “It gets harder to reach the market. The thing you were doing last year doesn’t work this year. You have to modify. You have to make adjustments. You have to tweak things. You have to reposition yourself. And it is a constant, never-ending process.”

The center’s job is to get entrepreneurs to the next level, and those efforts have resulted in new and retained jobs for the area and capital infusions for local businesses.

The Roswell office, which includes coordinator Carolyn Arias, is one of 18 Small Business Development Centers in New Mexico, and that network is part of a larger group of affiliates that includes the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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This year, the Roswell office was chosen by the SBA as the New Mexico SBDC network’s Center of Excellence for its efforts during the federal 2017 fiscal year from October 2016 to September 2017.

“I can tell you that this particular center in Roswell overachieved in every single measurement,” said Adriene Gallegos, outreach coordinator with the New Mexico SBDC State Office.

She explained that centers are evaluated by goals approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration and that, in some areas, the Roswell Center achieved 500 percent of its goals.

Numbers that will matter to local economic developers, business owners and entrepreneurs are that the center was involved in 21 business starts, 62 new jobs and 19 retained jobs that could have been lost had the client gone out of business. Clients also received about $3 million in new capital.

But Bucher considers a couple of other numbers as important as those — that the center provided 755 counseling hours to its clients and had 54 long-term clients.

He said that proves his point that what matters more than the stats to him and the statewide market — which he said is working to become one of the top-ranked in the nation — is the long-term relationships they develop.

“If you counsel those clients for more than five hours,” he said, “those clients are likely to get better results than those who only come in for 30 minutes.”

In spite of challenges that local businesses might encounter in today’s market, Bucher said that he thinks the time is right for start-ups and existing businesses to do well. But, he said, it takes a willingness to come to the center and the New Mexico network to access the hundreds of thousands of hours of expertise the staff have in solving business problems. Counseling is offered for free, although training is provided for a fee.

“We don’t want people to feel that asking for help is a surrender or throwing up a white flag,” he said. “We can help them move from those barriers that keep them from making their goals. Sometimes just a small tweak can make a big difference.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.